Sunday, May 19, 2013

'Tempest: A Novel' by Julie Cross

Official Summary:
The year is 2009.  Nineteen-year-old Jackson Meyer is a normal guy… he’s in college, has a girlfriend… and he can travel back through time. But it’s not like the movies – nothing changes in the present after his jumps, there’s no space-time continuum issues or broken flux capacitors – it’s just harmless fun. That is… until the day strangers burst in on Jackson and his girlfriend, Holly, and during a struggle with Jackson, Holly is fatally shot. In his panic, Jackson jumps back two years to 2007, but this is not like his previous time jumps. Now he’s stuck in 2007 and can’t get back to the future.

Desperate to somehow return to 2009 to save Holly but unable to return to his rightful year, Jackson settles into 2007 and learns what he can about his abilities. But it’s not long before the people who shot Holly in 2009 come looking for Jackson in the past, and these “Enemies of Time” will stop at nothing to recruit this powerful young time-traveler.  Recruit… or kill him. Piecing together the clues about his father, the Enemies of Time, and himself, Jackson must decide how far he’s willing to go to save Holly… and possibly the entire world.

There's something about time travel novels that will always get my attention. The prospect of discovering a whole new theory that's been dreamed up is just too hard to pass up. So, when I saw 'Tempest: A Novel' by Julie Cross flash up in an Amazon wallpaper ad I couldn't help myself - the book was downloaded and available for reading in less time than it took you to read this sentence. And in case you're wondering, no I'm not kidding. I truly have that little self-control... especially when a tragic love story is promised on top of the already enticing sci-fi stuff. This self-admitting control issue is also the reason why you're seeing a review for this title and not one of the titles promised earlier in the month. The allure of 'Tempest' was just too great.

But was it any good? Was it worth shoving all the other books that have been patiently waiting their turn in line aside so that I could indulge in a bit of time-travel speculation?

The answer to that question boils down to a classic case of 'a little bit of column A and a little bit of column B', I suppose.

Column A: The love story was equal parts endearing and tragic. The bits involving the sister were memorable, sweet and always delivered with just the right touch of sadness. The best friendship felt real, grounded and comfortable. Overall, the characters really do make this story - even though it feels as though Jackson feels like he should have been at least 21due to all the drinking he's doing. Seriously. What 19 year old's do you know of taking their scotch neat?

Column B: Time travel in this novel is used a bit too divisively for my taste. In some cases the jump is about equivalent to an historical movie. The protagonist jumps back, can interact with the characters involved, even change outcomes - but the changes don't stick and the future is unchanged by his actions. In others, Jackson jumps back in a 'full' jump - but doesn't go back in his actual timeline, instead he's in something akin to a parallel dimension. It doesn't seem like Jackson can complete a full jump in the same timeline, or to go about it the long way, one where he can effectively change the actions in the past relevant to his current circumstances without just abandoning ship to another, entirely new dimension. Although, it seems as though some time travelers can. To confuse things even further everyone except those gifted enough to travel time is duplicated across however many of these parallel dimensions exist while only one of the time traveler peeps exists across all of them. In a strange way the time traveling aspect turned out to be a kind of similiar to that mid-nineties show Sliders - but without the pesky problem of consistently running into alternate versions of yourself, or the historical divergence. You'd think with all these timelines being created by the time travelers (or visited by them... I never really figured that one out), there would be some level of difference between them. But alas, each dimension (timeline? confused) seems to be a pretty good replica of the last one leaving finding what time they've landed in as the only real issue for the time traveler.  

Bottom Line: I could go either way with this one. The relationships in this book are engaging and the plot, while being a bit too heavy handed on the scattered and inconsistent time traveling, is a lot of fun. It's in that spirit that I've already downloaded the second book in the series, "Vortex". If you're usually reaching for YA fiction and enjoy titles like 'Whispers in Autumn ' by Trish Leigh than this should be added to your TBR pile. If, however, you're searching for the next great science fiction novel than I recommend you keep looking.

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